Week 12: Fasting

Matthew 6:16-18

This week we are revisiting an idea that we looked at a couple of months ago.  From February to March we were challenged to participate in Lent both by subtracting something from our lives and adding something meaningful to fill that space.  This part of the sermon, Jesus teaches his disciples to fast, but to do so without being known.  He shares this so that his disciples will fast for the right reason, which is ultimately to grow closer to God.

The last few weeks we have been studying practices that Jesus warns against the temptation to be noticed.  Pride can easily get in the way of Christ, and this is why Jesus tells his disciples to practice these things in private.  It is valuable to be set apart from the world.  When people see a Christian out in public they should be able to clearly tell a difference in how that person acts.  We should achieve this by living as Christ lived.  The more we study the life of Christ and deepen our relationship with him, the more naturally we will begin to stand out.  This will occur not because of pride or a feeling that we are better than others, but will come about because of the Holy Spirit, humility, and loving others with genuine compassion.

This week, try to fast from something that is keeping your focus from God.  Get away from video games, TV, movies, music, phones, computers, or any other distractions, and fill that time with prayer and listening.  Subtract so that you may add to your relationship with Christ.  Take some time to pray and listen now to learn what you should fast from this week.  Maybe there is something that you need to remove from your life altogether.  Be intentional with this time and listen.

Consider this quote from Andrew Murray:

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

During this time of fasting also reflect on the life of Christ.  Recall how Christ spent time in the world building relationships with others.  Think about the 12 disciples and how they literally spent 3 years of their lives following Christ, doing everything with him.  Remember the compassion and grace that Christ showed to those around him.  Allow yourself to be transformed in this time.

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